William Penn: A Biography

William Penn: A Biography

William Penn: A Biography

William Penn: A Biography


Master! let us breathe and refresh a little; and sling a man overboard to stop the leakes ....

----A Sea Grammar , Captain John Smith, Sometime Governor of Virginia

1. Gentleman Commoner

EXHILARATED BY new hopes and mounting opportunities, Captain William Penn walked the Fellowship 's deck and breathed deeply of the late autumn air. It was eight o'clock in the morning with the wind to the northwest, and the Fellowship , which had been ordered out of the royal docks of Deptford two weeks before, was finally under way down the Thames. He'd been in luck; for, seafaring man though he was, he hadn't wanted to leave his bride just then; and the delay had given him the opportunity to make one last visit home before putting to sea.

There had been plenty of oars available to take the excited, twenty- three-year-old sea captain back across the Thames to London; and so to his home on Tower Hill. The house was most adequate, "consisting of one hall and parlor and kitchen with a divided cellar . . . and above stairs in the first story two fair chambers and in the second story two more chambers and two garrets over the same with a yard before." It stood on the east side of Tower Hill in the Parish of All Hallows Barking-by-the-Tower, within the protection of the wall. There his wife lay in childbirth. He had arrived in time to know that his first child was a boy who could be his namesake, and his sailing was delayed long enough so that he could carry the infant to the font of All Hallows, Barking, in nearby Tower Street, and have him baptized in the Anglican faith. The baby, which was born October 14, 1644, and baptized October 23, was strong, marked for survival in an age when the law of survival of the fittest operated almost rampant.

Captain Penn had been married June 6, 1643, in the Church of St. Martin's, Ludgate, to the widow Margaret Vanderschuren, but Captain Penn's was a seaman's kind of devotion, and . . .

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